Deirdre sweeps down the steps as the front door bangs behind her. Pulling her sweater close, she bounces across the grounds and past the hyacinth garden. “Hi Easter,” Deidre says, “It looks like the sun is going to break through and it’s going to be a beautiful day. How are you this morning?” “I’m fine dear,” Easter says, “Have you seen that handsome gardener?” Deirdre chuckles and says, “Not this morning, Easter. I’ll have him find you when I do. Would you like to have dinner with me about seven tonight?” “Why yes dear, that would be lovely. I enjoy coming to your house,” Easter replies. Deirdre starts toward the main house and calls over her shoulder, “I look forward to it. See you then. I got to get to work.”
“Good morning, Miss Deirdre.” Edie says through a wide smile. “There’s a gift for you in the music room, dear. I placed it on the pedestal in front of the bay window. It’s just as I found it.” Deidre replies, “Did you see who left it, Edie?” “No, it was left the same as all the other gifts. Your admirer is a sneaky one. Coffee is ready in a minute dear.” Edie says. “Thank you Edie. That sounds great.” Deirdre passes through the foyer to the music and library room on the left.
She removes an engraved sign that was staked inside a swan shaped ceramic pot housing blue hyacinths. Written on the sign is, “Life lies dormant in the heart until the time is right. Spring warmth pierces to the depths and splits the center. Spirit breathes, life breaks forth and beauty emerges with trumpets.” It’s signed, “To Deirdre, my flower.”
Deirdre gazes out the window across the misty sculpted grounds of Hyacinth Garden’s toward her one bedroom house not really seeing anything but the conservatory just beyond the Hyacinth garden. She stakes the sign in the pot where it originated, stoops and inhales the vibrant essence of the hyacinth. She steps near the fire, turns and faces the fragrant spring blossoms. A smile starts to break her sealed lips, but recedes giving way to a frown and slightly squinted eyes.
When Mr. and Mrs. Barth died in an airplane crash seven years ago Deirdre inherited twenty five acres. In an effort to keep her inheritance and stay on the property, Deirdre remodeled the house into a nine bedroom, six bathroom Bed and Breakfast. And, she was managing on her own until last year when a guy named Paul Barnaby came to stay.
Paul was especially difficult to please. He complained that he had to ask for an extra blanket, a newspaper should’ve been delivered to his room, internet service should’ve been complimentary, entertainment from the music room was too loud and he didn’t like dining at the same table with other guests so chose to eat meals alone in his room. Miss Barth doesn’t remember that Paul did anything active outside of his stay. But knows that she was happy he had gone, until Mr. Barnaby wrote a review about his stay at Hyacinth Garden’s that damaged her reputation in the world of hospitality.
Fortune would have it that this bad review came as the tourist season slowed. Deirdre consulted with financial advisors, contractors, landscapers and settled on a design with finesse. She pitched her idea to angel investors until she found Mr. Elliot. Mr. Elliot wanted to be a silent investor for the term of five years and Deirdre would never meet him. If the amount invested is not returned at the end of five years, he owns Hyacinth Garden’s. She accepted his offer in the spring of 2006. She’s paid back most of what she borrowed with interest except one last lump sum. Deirdre tugs at her fingers and tears start as she ponders how she will pay it. “Miss Deirdre, coffee is ready and breakfast is on its way dear.” Edie calls.
Hyacinth Garden’s staff gathers around the breakfast table. The Girls, as Deirdre calls them, chatter about the movie they watched last night. Deirdre enjoys talking with The Girls and they get boisterous with laughter. Ken nearly always butts in on their good time. He says he must set his mind to his work and he can’t do that with a bunch of giddy girls interrupting his thoughts. “Really Deirdre, if you show these girls that you are the boss, we may not be on the verge of losing the bed and breakfast,” he snaps. Deirdre presses her lips with a finger, breathes a heavy sigh, glares at Ken and bounces the back of her chair. Spasmodic gasps choke the air, Shelly pauses in step as she brings meals from the kitchen and it sounds as if a stainless still lid rolls after it hits the kitchen floor.
Rudy comes through the back door and says, “Good morning everybody. It smells good in here.” He places a small bouquet of hyacinth and daffodils in the center of the table. Deidre says, “Thank you Rudy. They’re beautiful.” He flashes a big smile and holds Deirdre’s gaze until she looks down. The staff sits silently and no one moves to acknowledge his presence. As he strolls around Ken and pulls the chair out to sit down, Ken says, “Oh, oh I can’t believe it. What are you a Neanderthal? Look at your boots and what you stomped across the floor, my god.” Rudy presses a clinched fist against the top of the table and says, “I start work at daybreak, you know that. What’s going on here?”
Ken pushes away from the table and strides out the back door. Deirdre looks up at Rudy and says, “On the twenty first of this month, we lose Hyacinth Garden’s if I can’t come up with the balloon payment. Mr. Elliot will own my bed and breakfast and Ken will lose his stock, so he is very upset. I’m sorry it was told to you this way. I had another time set to do it because I haven’t exhausted my options.” Edie says, “Should we start looking for other jobs?” Deirdre replies, “If you want. I have yet to discuss your positions with Mr. Elliot and get back to you.”
They pick at their breakfast. The Girls finish their conversation about the movie they watched the night before. “So, Deirdre,” Rachel says, “Who do you think is sending you gifts?” “I know who it is Rachel,” Deidre says. “It’s Mr. Elliot. He’s gloating over his victory.” Rachel says, “Maybe he wants you and Hyacinth Garden’s. I think it’s very romantic.” Deirdre shakes her head and leaves the table.
After a busy day, Deirdre saunters into the herb garden. She cuts rosemary, chives, basil, cilantro, oregano and lettuce tops to fill her bowl. Making her way toward her house, she steps into the conservatory, sits in a cushioned chair and caresses a burgundy wine glass that Edie placed there moments ago. Casually Deirdre swirls the hearty burgundy, lifts the glass to her nose and draws in the rich aroma. Tipping the glass toward the tip of her tongue, she detects the delicate flavors. Soon, she retrieves her herbs and sets off to prepare dinner for her and Easter.
Deirdre washes the herbs, cuts rosemary over a small roast; and then adds salt, garlic and plops in a few potatoes. She covers the roast and allows it to cook. Taking a glass bowl, she chops two head of garlic into it, adds eight tablespoons of dried oregano and covers the herbs with olive oil. She sets the micro-wave for two minutes, stirs and watches the mixture closely till it’s just close to boiling, removes the bowl and leaves it to cool. Next she tosses the remaining herbs with lettuce, onions, bell pepper and tomatoes. While waiting for the roast, Deirdre sets the table and marches to her room to change clothes.
Easter arrives on time, carrying homemade bread. “Umm, I was hoping you’d bring your bread Easter. I could get fat eating this.” Deirdre says. “I made dipping oil. I’ll strain it and you can give it a taste.” While Easter and Deirdre eat and chat, there’s a knock on the door. Rudy smiles wide, “Hi,” he says, “Is everything ok here? I saw the light is still on in the conservatory.” Easter gets out of her chair and shuffles to the door as she says, “Is that the handsome gardener calling on you Deirdre? Hi dear,” she says. She then hugs Rudy and pats him on the chest. He kisses her cheek. Deirdre grins big enough to laugh, but she keeps her laughter silent. “We’re having dinner and a good time, Rudy,” Easter tells him, “Care to join us? There’s more than enough food. Deirdre is an exceptional cook.” Rudy declines her invitation and tells Deirdre not to worry. He will turn the lights off and close the doors of the conservatory.
“He’s dreamy, Deirdre. Don’t you think about settling down dear and having babies?” Easter presses. Deirdre says, “Yes, quite often. Since my parents died, my whole concern has been Hyacinth Garden’s. I love this place and what it’s become. But in a few days, I’ll be working my dream for someone else and I will have nothing. Who will want me then? I didn’t expect things to end like this. That investor is a smart guy.” “She sure is,” Easter replies. “Things have a way of working out dear. You remind me of myself when I was young. You’ve worked hard and sacrificed so much. Maybe it’ll be a good change,” Easter puts her hand on Deirdre’s, “You know, not to carry the burden you’ve carried and simplify your life. You can go to movies with The Girls, get married, and have babies.” Deirdre turns her hand over and squeezes Easter’s hand. “Maybe you’re right. And, right now, I don’t have any other choice.”
Easter helps herself out of her chair and as she shuffles to the door she says, “As I tell my son, ‘work hard and take it easy.’ Life passes too quickly to live it alone dear.” “I didn’t know that you had a son. I’ve never met him, Easter,” Deirdre says. “Why yes I do have a son and he’s been here many times. I’ve walked with him through your gardens. Well, he doesn’t look anything like me.” Easter stops on the front porch and says, “If I had a daughter. I’d imagine she’d have been something like you. Thank you for taking in a lonely old woman and making her feel loved.” “I do love you, Easter,” Deirdre says as she hugs her.
Deirdre takes her coffee in the music room early the next morning and sips it while standing in front of the hearth. Edie comes in, “I’m bearing another present Miss Barth.” “Oh please, enough of this already. Why can’t he just knock on my door and face me?” She takes the wrapping paper off a small box and opens the box. “Sterling silver earrings and a matching necklace,” she says aloud. “No, they’re white gold?” “Good morning beautiful,” Ken says on his way to the dining room. Deirdre stares in the direction that Ken vanishes. “He’s in a good mood. Oh no, absolutely not, Ken can’t be my admirer.”
She steps into the bay window and wonders at the beauty of the spring gardens. The sun is going to shine again today, she thinks. I guess I will tell everyone that I must hand over Hyacinth Gardens and embrace the change. While she’s thinking, she sees Easter shuffling down the path along the spring flowers and falls out of sight. Deirdre dashes for the back door yelling, “Someone needs to call 911.” She races over the grass toward Easter and a large shape quickly sails in from the herb garden yelling, “Mama.”
Deirdre drives her car to the hospital and waits quietly with Rudy until the doctor reports that his mother will be fine. “You may see her now,” the doctor says. Rudy invites Deirdre to go into the room with him. “Ah, my kids come to see me. I must’ve given you a scare. Well, the old legs don’t want to work like they used too. So Deirdre, this is my son Rudy.” Deirdre raises her eyebrows, purses her lips and nods from the shoulders up.
“This morning,” Easter continues, “I was bringing these papers to you dear.” She hands an envelope to Deirdre. Deirdre removes the papers and opens the folds. “These are from Mr. Elliot.” Deirdre says, “He’s canceling my debt. I don’t understand, Easter. Why would Mr. Elliot give the paperwork to you? Are you like a gate keeper?” Easter says, “No dear, I am Mr. Elliot. I know it sounds strange. Times have changed so much since I was a young girl, you know? I had to make my way in a man’s world for quite some time. So, I created an alias and started investing. Eventually, I married a wealthy man and didn’t need to work again, but I keep up on the stock market and investment news. One day I stumbled upon your request. I’ve had so much fun with you. I couldn’t allow this charade of mine to continue to stress you, so I signed the papers to cancel your debt and release all interest in Hyacinth Garden’s.
“And, you knew about this Rudy?” Deirdre says. “Nope, this is the first I’m hearing of it,” he says. “I’m just as shocked as you are.” Easter says, “Deirdre, I’d like a drink please and Rudy will you spread that other blanket over my feet?” The kids sit one on one side of Easters bed and one on the other while listening to Easter describe her secret life as an angel investor. Rudy shakes his head and repeats, “I don’t believe it.”
“I have a question for you Easter. Have you been sending gifts to me too?” Deirdre asks. “I confess,” Rudy admits, “I’ve been secretive too. I’m your admirer Deirdre. I’ve liked you since the day we met.” “Your mother had nothing to do with it?” she says. Rudy shakes his head. “You little sneak, Rudy,” Easter pipes. “I was working on a plan to set you two up. Just tell her that you love her Rudy.” Rudy smiles at Deirdre, “I will mom, I will when the time is right.”
Deirdre continues to manage Hyacinth Garden’s and puts on an elaborate celebration every spring. Easter still has an investment or two that’s secret to everyone except Rudy and Deirdre. Rudy occasionally still leaves gifts with love notes and poems for Deirdre and their first child is due, would you believe, in the spring.